June 27th is National HIV Testing Day. It is an annual observance to promote HIV testing created in 1995 by the National Association of People with AIDS to spread the “Take the Test, Take Control” message across the country. HIV can affect anyone regardless of age, race/ethnicity, education, or geographic location. Of the estimated 1.1 million people in the United States living with HIV, almost 1 in 6 is unaware of their infection.
As of September 30, 2013 there were a total of 19,087 persons living with HIV/AIDS in Louisiana. The cumulative number of deaths among persons diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, reported to the Louisiana Office of Public Health through September 30, 2013 is 14,666 including 114 deaths among pediatric cases.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV as part of routine health care. A HIV test is recommended once a year for people at increased risk-such as gay and bisexual men, injection drug users or people with multiple sex partners. Sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from more frequent testing (e.g. every 3 to 6 months). CDC also recommends that pregnant women get tested early in their pregnancy so they can take steps to prevent passing HIV to their babies.
Getting tested for HIV is a smart thing to do. Still, many people refuse to get tested. Some find the idea of getting tested too frightening, even though they will often continue to agonize about whether they’re infected. Others think of testing as unnecessary and hold on to the belief that HIV can’t happen to them. Many times when people get tested, they happily discover their concern was unfounded. The assurance that comes from a negative test result can provide enormous relief. For others, getting tested and learning they are HIV positive is the first important step towards staying healthy.
Advances in medical care for the HIV infected have come a long way over the past several years. People with HIV are living for longer and longer periods of time, remaining healthy, and leading productive lives.
GO CARE founded in 1987, provides free and confidential HIV Testing and Counseling utilizing a rapid tests where results are available in a few as 5 minutes. Walk in are welcomed Monday through Thursday 8 am to 4 pm and until 2 on Fridays. For more information visit our website at www.go-care.org or call 318-325-1092.